Staff Reporters
Apr 13, 2011

How to generate quality leads at low cost via search

SINGAPORE – Purpleclick founder and CEO Leonard Tan offers advice to marketers looking to generate highly qualified leads at a lower cost through search.

Leonard Tan, founder and CEO Purpleclick Media
Leonard Tan, founder and CEO Purpleclick Media

Minimise your advertising wastage by capturing highly targeted customers at the different stages of their purchase cycle.

A lot of times, businesses work on acquisition and to generate these new sales leads, they attack new databases and think of strategies to capture these new customers. What about the ready pool who have their wallets open - ready to pay, but can’t find you? It takes half the cost to convert potential customers who are already predisposed to buy by showing your ad at the time they’re searching for you. This is where search engine marketing (SEM) comes into play, where you can make use of keywords that your potential customers would be typing into search engines to find your product or service.

To do this, you must first understand searchers’ behaviour.

Purchase interest. Searchers search to gather information about product range and retailers available. The keyword style is broad and generic, for example 'tv', 'television', 'electronics store'. The estimated conversion rate is zero to one per cent

Option comparison. Searchers have selected a few options and are comparing the different criteria. The scope of the search and options have been narrowed down. The keyword style is criteria-specific, for example '42-inch lcd tv', high-definition tv'. The estimated conversion rate is one to three per cent.

Ready to purchase. Searchers are now ready to purchase and search for availability and deals. The keyword style is specific or long-tail, for example 'sharp aquos 42-inch tv', 'samsung tv model XX-1234'. The estimated conversion rate is three to six per cent. 

Apart from understanding the different stages in the purchase cycle, you need to understand your customers’ informational needs – which translates to what they would be searching for online (even during impromptu events). For example, The Singapore Budget 2011 was just released and there would be an upsurge of search volume on keywords related to the topic. A smart training company would predict that search volume for keywords such as 'productivity grants' or 'boost productivity' will increase. They would then add these relevant keywords to their campaign and edit their ad copies accordingly to attract these searchers to their business.

In this way, businesses can very smartly capture this group of potential customers and convert them into sales. This is of course made possible with the flexibility of SEM, whereby ad messages can be updated and keywords can be added instantaneously.

Another example would be a travel agency participating in the NATAS Fair looking to increase traffic at their exhibition booth. They would add keywords such as 'NATAS Australia package' or 'NATAS deals' into their campaign, on top of the usual keywords they are using such as 'discounted Bali hotel' or 'free-and-easy Taiwan'. SEM lets advertisers tweak their campaigns according to events (whether expected or unexpected) and allows changes to be taken effect immediately to prevent any leak of revenue coming from these various sources.

SEM works on a cost-per-click (CPC) model whereby your ad effectively appears for free unless an interested searcher clicks on your ad. This means free impressions  or exposure of your ads on the search engines. Businesses need to leverage on this cost-effective model to achieve the highest ROI possible for your marketing dollars. This is achieved through continuous bidding optimisation of your campaigns to achieve the lowest CPC possible, by placing them at optimal positions on the search engine results page.

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